Kobe Bryant Dead: Mark Wahlberg Honors Lakers Star With Heartwarming Photo

Mark Wahlberg is a fan of the Boston Celtics and the teams from Massachusetts, but he has been a mainstay at STAPLES Center. He has often been seen sitting courtside and has enjoyed multiple interactions with Kobe Bryant. Wahlberg opted to honor the late NBA star following his death with a photo showing them together.

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The photo posted on Instagram showed Wahlberg and his son Michael sitting courtside prior to a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks. Bryant was pinching Michael's cheek while bystanders looked on and smiled.

"RIP [praying hands emoji, heart emoji, praying hands emoji]" Wahlberg wrote in the caption of the photo.

This photo was not the only time that Wahlberg and Bryant talked prior to a game. They have also been spotted chatting it up in 2003, 2009, and 2015. It didn't matter that the Celtics and the Lakers have a fierce rivalry; the actor and basketball player still showed each other respect.

Interestingly enough, there was an interaction in 2008 that was slightly less civil. Wahlberg and fellow actor/Celtics fan Matt Damon attended Game 4 of the NBA Finals after securing floor seats from their agents. The Lakers hosted the Celtics facing a 1-2 deficit in the series after dropping two games in Boston.

Bryant's team jumped out to an early lead but couldn't secure a victory in the home arena. This led to former Lakers coach Phil Jackson cursing at Damon and Wahlberg as they were cheering about the Celtics playing well on the road. Although the man who portrayed Jason Bourne had a far more entertaining pregame story about Bryant.

"I remember him [Bryant] saying 'get them the f– out of my way,'" Damon told Bill Simmons in Nov. 2019. "Like he had that killer, like 'just f–ing clear everybody out. I'm doing it. Just get them the f– out of my way.' And when the game started, he ran past us and goes: 'not tonight, motherf–ers.' Which was great. It's what you want."

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Following Bryant's tragic death on Sunday morning, these profanity-laden interactions are no longer possible. Damon and Wahlberg will still remember the entertaining moment prior to the 2008 game, as well as other interactions in recent years.

(Photo Credit: Vince Bucci/Getty Images)